What’s Fertility Got to Do with It? How to Respond When People Assume You’re Infertile

Harriet Tubman.

Frida Kahlo. 

Coco Chanel.

Queen Elizabeth I.

Billie Holiday.

Jane Austen.

Harper Lee.

Georgia O’Keefe.

All women.

All childfree.

And despite the amazing legacies these women left, it’s fairly likely they were asked probing questions about their fertility status. Had they tried certain positions? Did they know their fertile clock was ticking? That their window to have babies was running out? 

Because, no matter what the era, people can’t seem to imagine a woman’s life being fulfilled if she doesn’t have a child.

Perhaps, you, too, are faced with such questions from well-meaning people in your life, be they relatives or random co-workers. How can you respond in a thoughtful way that speaks the truth without shutting them down? 

Being prepared is the first step, so in this article, we’re going to equip you with some responses you can have in your back pocket so you’ll be ready when/if people make snide, concerned, random, pitying, or overall unhelpful comments around your fertility. 

Choice 1: The Confident Response 

For people who may be unaware or who have not fully grasped your decision to be childfree, responding confidently to their comments underscores your autonomy –  while also setting clear boundaries around your decision. Being outright confident works on so many levels:

  • encourages respect for your perspective
  • minimizes misunderstandings
  • projects self-assuredness
  • strengthens your personal convictions
  • showcases your ability to lead authentically
  • deters unwanted pressures or suggestions (at least most of the time)

Moreover, your confidence can shift the focus away from assumptions about your fertility and redirect their attention to the opportunity for a discussion that promotes understanding. 

CHYLDFREE, What’s Fertility Got to Do with It? How to Respond When People Assume You’re Infertile

If you’re grasping at straws for how to confidently respond to below-the-belt comments about your sex life, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • “Actually, I’ve made a deliberate choice to be childfree. My fertility status isn’t relevant to that decision.”
  • “Nope. Not infertile.” [Full stop.]
  • “It’s great that you’re interested in my life choices, but being childfree is a conscious decision I’ve made, it’s not a result of infertility.”
  • “Being childfree because it aligns with my life goals and values. It’s a decision I’m confident and happy about.”
  • “I’m fertile, but no thank you! No kids for me!”

Choice 2: The Light-Humored Response

Using humor can be effective in various situations, especially with people who might be persistent, nosy, or simply unaware of boundaries. 

Humor can ease awkwardness and tension in the conversation, making it more relaxed and enjoyable. Making people laugh breaks the ice and reminds them that the topic isn’t a life-or-death issue. Laughter also releases hormones that lower stress and promote connection. As a result, the hormones released through laughter directly encourages the other person to be more receptive to your point of view, creating an open space for discussion. 

A few light-hearted responses could include:

  • “No fertility problems. We just have an ‘anti-diaper’ policy in effect!”
  • “Oh, I’ve got all the ingredients, but my recipe for life just doesn’t call for little humans.”
  • “I have a preference for fur babies over human babies.”
  • “You want the number of my OBGYN/urologist? They can let you know ALL of my fertility details!”

Choice 3: The Educational Response

Some people may simply be naive to the fact that certain individuals choose to be childfree. This is your chance to give them the honest details! 

By calmly and informatively explaining your decision, you have the opportunity to dispel misconceptions and broaden others’ perspectives. This approach promotes understanding of the complexities behind the childfree lifestyle and encourages a more thoughtful and empathetic connection between you and the other person. It can also lead to meaningful conversations that challenge societal norms, break down stereotypes, and encourage personal growth for both you and the people you engage with. Woohoo for dismantling the status quo!

If you come across someone who is both open-minded and eager to learn, here are a few simple, quick ways to inform them that your choice to be childfree isn’t a fertility issue:

  • Actually, being childfree is a life choice, distinct from fertility issues.
  • My decision is about my personal preference. Thankfully, it’s not a medical condition.
  • I’ve actually chosen to have kids. If you’d like to learn more, there are some great resources I could send you!
CHYLDFREE, What’s Fertility Got to Do with It? How to Respond When People Assume You’re Infertile

Choice 4: The Self-Empowerment Response

When others mistakenly believe that your decision to be childfree has to do with your fertility, responding with empowerment can be incredibly beneficial. This is your chance to flex the bountiful life and boundaries you’ve been able to cultivate as a childfree person. Rather than feeling defensive or apologetic, take ownership of your decision and celebrate the freedom and flexibility that comes with it. 

By taking a stand, you break down the cultural expectations that perpetuate gender roles and parental obligations. By embracing your childfree-dom with pride and confidence, you can pave the way for others to do the same, creating a ripple effect of liberation and self-determination. 

A few empowering responses could include:

  • “This actually is a personal choice. I’m really excited about all the adventures and opportunities that a childfree life allows me to pursue.”
  • “What do Oprah, Katharine Hepburn, and Julia Child have in common? They all chose to not have children! Just think about what my choice to be childfree will bring to my life.”

No matter what attitude or intention you approach your responses to others, the key is to assert your choice while maintaining a positive and respectful tone. Some people won’t be ready to accept your choice to be childfree. That’s okay. You can’t control their response. You can only control how you react to them. Keeping your reactions grounded, honest, and open will allow room for connections while you remain firm in your valid decision to be childfree.


Must Read

Related Articles